Madame Alexander’s Composition Dolls

 Alexander  Comments Off on Madame Alexander’s Composition Dolls
Sep 052013

Madame Alexander made dolls in composition from the mid-1930s until they switched to hard plastic in 1948. As they later did in hard plastic and vinyl, the most popular face molds were used over and over again with only painted features, hairstyle and clothing to differentiate them. Some dolls, like Jane Withers and the Three Little Pigs, had unique molds. Many of the classic Alexander dolls have been reissued in vinyl in recent years.

Jump to individual dolls on this page:
Alice in Wonderland
Baby Genius
Baby McGuffey
Dionne Quintuplets
Jeannie Walker
Little Betty
Madelaine DuBain
Fairy Princess
Sonja Henie
Lady Windermere
McGuffey Ana
Margaret O’Brien
Princess Elizabeth
Princess Margaret Rose
Scarlett Portrait
Three Little Pigs
Tiny Betty
Wendy Ann
Wendy Ann – molded hair
Wendy Ann – painted eyes
Jane Withers

Click on a small photo to view a larger version. This is just a small sampling of Alexander’s compo dolls.

Princess Elizabeth face:

Princess Elizabeth doll by Alexander Princess Elizabeth doll by Alexander Elizabeth II has been made in doll form by several different companies, beginning in 1937 when she was a Princess and continuing through her coronation in 1953 until today. Pictured at left are two 1938 composition Princess Elizabeth toddler dolls by Alexander. The same face mold was used for other dolls as well. Find Princess Elizabeth dolls on eBay.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

_24mcguff1 (2K) _mcguff1 (2K) _mcguff2 (4K) McGuffey Ana has been a popular character for Alexander for decades. This version, using the Princess Elizabeth face mold, was made from 1937-44. She was sold in a variety of outfits but always had her hair in braids. Find McGuffey Ana dolls on eBay.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Wendy Ann face:

_molded (2K) _molded2 (4K) Most Wendy Ann dolls have wigs, but this early version has molded hair.
Find Wendy Ann dolls on eBay.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller luving_dolls

_12alice1 (3K) Alice in Wonderland was one of the many story book characters that Alexander has made. This version is 12″ tall.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

_12wend1 (2K) _14wann1 (3K) _15wendyann (3K) Here are three dolls that were sold under the Wendy Ann name. The name was taken from Madame Alexander’s granddaughter.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

_14fairyprin (3K) _15fairyp (3K) Here are two different versions of the Fairy Princess.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

_14madeleine (3K) _dubain3 (4K) Madelaine DuBain was sold in several sizes and various outfits from 1937-41. Later, she was made in hard plastic using the Maggie face.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

_18scarlett (3K) Scarlett has been a perennially popular character in the Alexander lineup. This version is 18″ tall.
Find composition Scarlett dolls on eBay.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

_carmen1 (3K) Carmen capitalized on the popularity of singer/actress Carmen Miranda.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

_scarlett1 (4K) _scarlett3 (4K) _ladywind1 (4K)

Portraits were made before and after World War II and had striking facial paint. Left to right are Scarlett and Lady Windermere. They are 21″ tall and were very expensive dolls at the time.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Margaret face:

Margaret O'Brien doll by Madame Alexander Margaret O'Brien doll by Madame Alexander Margaret O'Brien doll by Madame Alexander Margaret O’Brien was a child movie star in the 1940s. Alexander made her in composition in 1946-7 (shown at left), and in a hard plastic version in 1948.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

_mrose1 (2K) _mrose3 (4K) Princess Margaret Rose was the younger sister of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth. In the late ’30s, Alexander made her as a toddler doll with the Princess Elizabeth face; this more grown up version with the Margaret face dates from 1946.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

_karen1 (3K) _karen2 (4K) Karen Ballerina was made in 15″ and 18″ sizes from 1946-49. She was made in hard plastic as well.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Tiny Betty/Little Betty face:

Composition Little Betty as Bo-Peep doll by Madame Alexander _tiny2 (4K) 7″ Tiny Betty was sold under many different character names and in many different regional outfits from 1935-42. At far left is Bo-Peep.
Find Tiny Betty dolls on eBay.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Little Betty composition doll by Madame Alexander 9″ Little Betty was just a slightly bigger version of Tiny Betty. She is pictured here dressed as a Scottish lass.
Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

_peye1 (3K) _peye2 (6K) This doll made with the Little Betty face was the first use of the name Wendy Ann.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Baby faces:

_12bgen1 (2K) _12bgen2 (3K)

Baby Genius was made in cloth, composition and hard plastic versions over many years. Compo dolls like the one pictured had cloth bodies and were made in the 1930s and ’40s.
Find Little Genius dolls on eBay.
Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc. Visit their website.

_17babymcguff (2K) Baby McGuffey. Most dolls with the McGuffey name are toddlers or little girls, but this rare doll has bent baby legs. She is 17″ tall and was made in 1937 only.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

This 21″ doll might be either Baby Genius or Baby McGuffey. Without a box or tag, it is difficult to tell. Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Unique Celebrity faces:

Composition Marie Dionne doll by Alexander Composition Dionne Quintuplet dolls by Alexander The Dionne Quintuplets were the first surviving set of identical quintuplets in history. Their birth in Canada in 1934 was a media sensation. Alexander acquired the rights to make dolls of them, which they did in several different baby and toddler versions from 1935-39. The smaller sizes were usually sold as sets of five dolls. Many other doll companies made unlicensed versions of the Dionnes.
Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

_15withers1 (2K) _15withers2 (4K) Jane Withers was a child star in the 1930s. She was made by Alexander in several sizes from 1937-39. Some were all composition (like the 15″ doll pictured) and some had a compo head and limbs on a cloth body.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

_15orange1 (2K) _15orange2 (3K) Sonja Henie was a Norwegian ice skater who won the Olympic gold medal in 1928, 1932 and 1936. When she retired from competition, she had a second career in the movies. Alexander made Sonja Henie in composition from 1939-42 (shown at left) and in a totally different version with vinyl head and hard plastic body in 1951.
Find Sonja Henie dolls on eBay.
Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc. Visit their website.

Other Unique faces:

Composition Jeannie Walker doll by Alexander 14″ Jeannie Walker has a unique construction with a walking mechanism. The doll’s crotch piece is made of wood. She was produced in the early 1940s.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller hug*a*pug.

_pig1 (2K) _pig2 (2K) _pig3 (2K) Three Little Pigs and Wolf dolls were sold in 1938-39. Each pig had a different outfit. They have been reissued in vinyl in recent years.

_12betty (3K) The Betty with molded hair (far left), was made by another company and dressed and sold by Alexander. She dates from the early to mid 1930s. This doll is 12″ tall. The Betty doll on the near left was manufactured by Alexander. She has sleep eyes and what looks like a caracul wig, and was made in 13″, 17″ and 22″ sizes. Photo of wigged Betty courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Copyright 2009-2013 by Zendelle Bouchard

Composition and hard plastic dolls by Uneeda Doll Co.

 Composition, Uneeda  Comments Off on Composition and hard plastic dolls by Uneeda Doll Co.
Apr 102013

Uneeda is mostly known for the vinyl dolls they made from the late fifties through the early seventies, such as Dollikin and Miss Suzette; but the company had a long history of producing beautiful composition, hard plastic, and a few cloth dolls before then. This is a very partial list which will be added to as more information comes along.

Click on a photo to view a larger version.

25″ all composition baby, open-closed mouth with two painted teeth, painted hair and eyes, jointed at neck, shoulders, hips. Circa 1918.

Sweetums is a Mama doll, composition head and limbs on cloth body with swing legs. Tin sleep eyes, open mouth with two teeth. Circa late 1920s. Photos of her here. Uneeda is still using the Sweetums name for its line of infant dolls.

12″ all compo toddler boy and girl twins, molded hair, dressed in matching red and white outfits, no names, closed mouths, brown sleep eyes. 1940.

Carmen composition doll by Uneeda Carmen composition doll by Uneeda Carmen is a 14″ jointed composition doll with red mohair wig, 1948. Red taffeta gown with gold braid trim, black lace half-length overskirt and mantilla. Her box and tag read “As inspired by Rita Hayworth’s portrayal of Carmen in ‘The Loves of Carmen.'” See more photos here. Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

The Cutest Little Red Headed Doll is a 17″ all composition girl doll, red mohair wig, blue sleep eyes, open mouth with two teeth. She wears a white short sleeved blouse and green gingham pinafore dress with yellow ribbons on her blouse and in her hair. She was a tie-in to a hit song of the day. 1940s. You can see photos of her here.

In the short window between the composition doll era and the vinyl doll era, Uneeda sold hard plastic dolls as many other companies did. These are not marked with the Uneeda name so may have been purchased from another manufacturer. You can see two lovely examples here.

Copyright 2013 by Zendelle Bouchard

Jan 232013

Reliable Toy Co. of Canada had a long history in the doll business beginning in 1920. They made composition, hard plastic and vinyl dolls, including some knockoffs of popular American models. The company was more recently sold to Allied Plastic Products of Toronto and in 1995 doll production was discontinued.

Here are just a few of the many, many dolls made by Reliable over the years. Their dolls are generally well marked. Click on the small photo to see a larger version.

A variety of compo dolls were made including babies, toddlers, children and characters. Some were all composition and some had cloth bodies.

Shirley Temple
Reliable had the Canadian license to sell composition Shirley Temple dolls in the 1930s. Some appear to have been made using the Ideal molds, or perhaps they were made by Ideal and sold nude to Reliable, where they were dressed. The clothing has Reliable tags, but the dolls are just marked Shirley Temple. They were made in a variety of sizes.

This 20″ girl doll may be Sally Ann or Gloria. She has a composition shoulder head and limbs with a cloth body, tin sleep eyes, blonde mohair wig and open mouth with teeth.

Baby Bubbles doll by Reliable of Canada Baby Bubbles was made in a few different versions. In addition to the one pictured, who has a compo head, arms and legs on a cloth body and sleep eyes, there was also one with painted eyes and cloth legs. In the 1950s, there was a vinyl Baby Bubbles made. Photo courtesy of Cathy Chase.

12″ tall with bent baby legs, all composition, made with blue painted eyes or sleep eyes, brown molded hair, closed mouth. The name was also used for later vinyl dolls.

Wettums is an all compo drink and wet baby, open mouth nurser. Visit the Wettums page for more info.

Koweeka (Smilie)
14″ composition Eskimo doll with painted brown eyes and molded hair, wears a white and black faux fur outfit with boots. Interesting box has an arctic design on the lid featuring an igloo. The same doll was also used by Clicquot Club as an advertising premium.

Maggie Muggins was a character in a popular children’s TV and radio show, created by Mary Grannan. The doll was produced in 1947 and is 14″ tall, all composition, with red mohair wig in braids, and painted freckles.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller hug*a*pug.

_kewptype (2K) Standing dolls are 8″ tall, jointed only at the shoulders, with large side-glancing eyes and mohair wig. May be dressed as a girl, in Indian costume, or military uniform

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police doll wears his official uniform. Go to the Mountie page for more info.

Hard Plastic
Dress Me Doll
7.5″ tall, hard plastic with wig of various colors, jointed at neck and shoulders only, sleep eyes, molded shoes, sold nude in plastic bag. Probably made in other sizes as well.

Another Ideal doll licensed by Reliable to sell in Canada. She is unmarked, but otherwise closely resembles the Ideal Toni.

Saucy Walker
Yet another Ideal license, she is marked Reliable, but otherwise resembles the Ideal version, including her flirty eyes. They also made Saucy with a vinyl head and hard plastic body.

Susie Stepps
This walking girl doll is all hard plastic, jointed at neck, shoulders and hips, with sleep eyes and synthetic wig. She has an open mouth with teeth and tongue and was made in several sizes.

Licenses from Ideal continued with Bonnie Braids, Betsy Wetsy and Patty Sue Playmate (Patti Playpal).

Sally Ann
17″ toddler doll with flexible, all-vinyl body jointed only at the neck, sleep eyes, curly strawberry blonde hair pulled back from her face. She wears a royal blue taffeta dress with attached apron in coordinating checked fabric, trimmed with lace, socks and white mary janes.

Scottish Lassie
16″ blonde doll with vinyl head, plastic body, sleep eyes, wears a Scottish ensemble including lace-trimmed white blouse, dark jacket, plaid kilt and scarf, tam with plaid trim, red socks, mary jane shoes. A ribbon attached to the jacket proclaims her a Souvenir of Canada.

Sleeping Beauty
This is a 10″ all-vinyl Little Miss Revlon type glamour doll. She has dark blond hair in curls with bangs, and wears a pale purple gown with darker bodice.

Miss Canada (1960)
Miss Canada is an 18″ vinyl glamour doll with curly auburn hair and a lacy sleeveless dress. She is jointed at the hips, shoulders and neck, and is marked “RELIABLE (in script)/CANADA” on her body.

Bride (1960)
This doll is 17″ tall and has a one-piece Rigidsol body with vinyl head. Her brown eyes match her short brown hair and set her apart from the blue-eyed pack. She is marked “RELIABLE” on her head and “H-17” on her back.

Copyright 2006-2013 by Zendelle Bouchard

Aug 272012

See also:

1950 Hard plastic Cinderella uses the Margaret face mold. Photo courtesy of Lisa Hanson.

Beatrice Alexander Behrman, or “Madame Alexander,” as she became known,
grew up in the doll business. As the daughter of Maurice Alexander, a Russian immigrant who opened the first doll hospital in this country in 1895, she learned to appreciate the beauty of dolls from her early years. Her father’s teachings stayed with her into adulthood, and seeking a professional and artistic challenge, she founded the Alexander Doll Co., Inc., in the 1920’s. She went on to become the leading lady of the doll industry as she guided a company famous for the beauty and high quality of its dolls and their clothing.

Early Alexander dolls were cloth and composition. They had big hits in the 1930’s with their licensed Dionne Quintuplets and Sonja Henie composition dolls. During this period they also introduced characters from literature, including the Little Women series and McGuffey Ana. In the late ’40s, they turned to hard plastic and their Margaret and Maggie face dolls were the epitome of the well-dressed little girl. The 8″ Alexander-kins were introduced in 1953. Baby dolls such as Little Genius were produced in several sizes.

From the very beginning, Madame Alexander focused on producing the highest quality, most beautiful doll clothing in the world. The same molds were used over and over again, with the costume and hairstyling creating the character of the doll.

Alexander initiated the modern era of the fashion doll with the introduction of Cissy in 1955. In the company’s catalog for that year, Madame describes her as “A Child’s Dream Come True.” Elise, a doll with jointed ankles to enable her to wear low or high heels, was introduced in 1957, and in 1959, 10″ Cissette joined her “big sisters” as Alexander’s newest fashionable lady. All of these dolls had extensive lines of extra clothing and accessories which could be purchased.

In addition to the fashionable ladies, Alexander produced some of their most enduring child dolls in the 1950s. Baby Kathy was produced in several sizes, and little girl Kelly was dressed in beautiful, classic styles. The Little Women dolls that had always been big sellers for Alexander got an update with the introduction of pre-teen Lissy.

Marybel, the Doll Who Gets Well by Madame Alexander

Marybel, the Doll Who Gets Well utilized the Kelly face. Scan from 1963 Sears Toy Book.

In the 1960s, Alexander introduced a number of new dolls with unique head molds, including Brenda Starr, a slim teen fashion doll to compete with Mattel’s Barbie, and Coco, a new 20″ high fashion doll. While these dolls had a fairly short production run, the company also introduced some new faces which would become classics in their line. The 21″ Jacqueline doll was one of these. Initially a representation of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, the mold was later used for the Portrait Series of lady dolls which were produced for decades. 14″ Mary Ann and 12″ Janie, both little girl dolls, became mainstays of the company’s line as well.

Also in the 1960s, the International Series using the 8″ Alexander-kins molds were introduced. They have become Alexander’s most popular line, and are still being manufactured today.

Netherlands Boy and Girl by Madame Alexander

8″ Netherlands Girl and Boy, 1980s.

The 1970s and ’80s saw Alexander staying the course, with few innovations, producing the beloved babies and children, characters from classic literature, and ladies in Portrait gowns that had always done well for them. After Madame’s death in 1990, the company went through a challenging period. They were the last of the major doll manufacturers still located in the United States, and having difficulty competing for collectors’ dollars. In 1995 the company was sold to an international banking group and production began to be moved overseas.

Today the Alexander Doll Company is going strong, producing high-quality play dolls for children, and several lines for collectors, as well as reproductions of their best-loved dolls of yesteryear.

See also:

Copyright 2012-16 by Zendelle Bouchard